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Point of View

PERSPECTIVES

Our latest thinking on topics related to change and leadership.

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How Fit Is Your Team?

By Todd Ragaza

For as long as people have pursued shared goals, teams have been part of the equation. In school, we work together and play together on teams. In sports, teams provide a sense of identity for the players and fans. And in the workplace, teams are the essential building blocks for getting work done. Instinctively, we all know what good teamwork feels like. But in spite of (or maybe because of) our experience observing and being part of teams, we often overlook the basics of how we practice teamwork.

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The Tension of Opposites

By Bob Weiler

Imagine being a CEO tasked with developing a breakthrough strategy that positions your organization for future growth. No matter how brilliant your ideas, you can’t drive change on your own. You need a high-performance executive team working together to align the organization as it moves in a new direction.

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Playing Together

By Dyan Dyer

Conversations around the gender gap are prevalent, sparked by books like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In that points out some of the barriers that hold women back. Recent research studies illustrate how greater gender diversity in companies’ management correlates to better financial performance and stock market valuation. There is a host of evidence that shows how women have grown more empowered over the last several decades—culturally, educationally, and economically.

FUEL

Articles, books, people and events that are fueling the conversations we have with our clients and each other.

  • Leading People Safely: How to Win on the Business Battlefield

    by James T. Schultz and Brian L. Fielkow, North Loop Books 2016

    How can safety improve performance? James T. Schultz, a Brimstone Senior Partner, and Brian L. Fielkow provide a guide for optimizing organizational performance through safety leadership. Using anecdotes, strategies, and practical tools, this book explores the principles and practices for creating, nurturing, and sustaining a culture of safety. We consider it a must-read for leaders in safety-sensitive industries.

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  • Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

    by Tom Kelly and David Kelly, Crown Business 2013

    Creative Confidence is a book that helps anyone access their creative potential. The authors, IDEO founder and Stanford d.school creator David Kelley, and his brother, Tom Kelley who also wrote the bestselling The Art of Innovation, explain the principles and strategies that allow us to tap into our innate creativity—to make our personal and work lives richer.

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  • Igniting Customer Connections: Fire Up Your Company’s Growth by Multiplying Customer Experience and Engagement

    by Andrew Frawley, Wiley 2014

    A big part of a change effort is envisioning how your organization’s changes will impact external customers. Frawley examines how the consumer landscape is changing, and provides suggestions on how today’s marketers can think differently about meeting their customers’ rapidly changing expectations.

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  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon & Schuster 2006

    Goodwin masterfully captures Lincoln’s genius in managing the people around him. Lincoln faced incredibly complex and unprecedented challenges during his presidency. By bringing together former adversaries and leveraging their talents, he overcame obstacles unlike any leader before or after him.

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  • The Trusted Advisor

    by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford, Touchstone 2001

    For people in services businesses, this book is a must-read. It examines the changing landscape of trust in today’s connected world, and what practices help you build trust. The authors also provide unique insights about how to translate your client’s trust and confidence into business value.

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  • Power Up: Transforming Organizations Through Shared Leadership

    by David L. Bradford and Alan R. Cohen, Wiley 1998

    While the idea of shared leadership—and a move away from command-and-control management—has captured the imagination of many leaders, how to put it into practice remains a barrier. In this book, Bradford and Cohen break down the complex concepts behind shared leadership and provide a blueprint for making it work.  They provide multiple real-life examples and case studies that illustrate what this way of leading makes possible, and give you tools to help you create an organizational culture of shared responsibility.

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  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

    by Susan Cain, Broadway Books 2013

    How many "quiet rock stars" have you worked with? Cain explores how the Extrovert Ideal became entrenched in our culture, and makes a case for the high price we pay by undervaluing introverts. Well researched and filled with stories of successful introverts, this book gives us a new perspective on how we view introverts and their power in the workplace.

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  • How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In

    by Jim Collins, HarperCollins 2009

    Companies don’t become great overnight, and likewise, they rarely fall without warning. By examining how companies behave as they get into trouble, Collins identifies the common stages of decline, and explores how leaders can keep their companies from falling all the way to the bottom.

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  • Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company

    by Andrew S. Grove, Crown Business 1999

    First published twenty years ago, Grove’s thoughts on how to spot patterns in massive change stands up to the test of time. Based on common sense, case studies, and first-hand experience, this book guides leaders on how to act when the business landscape shifts suddenly and unexpectedly.

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  • The Attacker’s Advantage: Turning Uncertainty into Breakthrough Opportunities

    by Ram Charan, PublicAffairs 2015

    Change, in addition to creating massive disruption, also exposes extraordinary opportunities. Charam explores how leaders can use change to create advantage, along with the mindset required to attack in spite of ambiguity, volatility, and complexity.

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  • The Art of Authenticity: Tools to Become an Authentic Leader and Your Best Self

    by Karissa Thacker, Wiley 2016

    Authenticity is the best way to lead, and the only way to maintain sustainable success as an organization. With expertise, research-backed findings, case studies, and chapter “workouts”, Thacker, guides readers on how to understand themselves better and leverage their authentic selves to be more effective leaders.

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  • Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

    by Amy Cuddy, Little, Brown and Company 2015

    In Presence, Amy Cuddy explores the mind-body connection and how it impacts our self-perceptions, personal power, and even our ability to lead. In addition to telling truly engaging stories, she supports her assertions with a full set of facts and scientific research.

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  • Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

    by Edgar H. Schein, Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2011

    “Help” can be a loaded word in business, which makes it a fascinating topic for Schein, one of the greats in organizational behavior, to explore. This book analyzes the social and psychological dynamics that underpin different helping relationships, and explains why sometimes help isn’t helpful.

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  • Business Writing: What Works, What Won’t

    by Wilma Davidson, St. Martin's Griffin 2015

    It’s impossible to be effective as a leader if you can’t communicate your ideas in ways that get your message across clearly and powerfully. This updated version of Davidson’s fundamentals for business writing should be required reading for anyone who relies on the written word to get things done.

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  • Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor

    by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O’Toole, Jossey-Bass 2008

    Creating a “culture of candor” is easier said than done, especially for organizations trained to tightly control their narratives. The authors explore the risks and benefits of openness, and suggest practical ways that leaders can reorganize their cultures around greater transparency.

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  • On Becoming a Leader

    By Warren Bennis, Basic Books; Fourth Edition, March 3, 2009

    This book outlines some simple and amazingly powerful practices that help people reach the next level of leadership. We love how fundamentally human this book is. With key messages that are largely universal and timeless, we consider this one of the best all-around books on leadership in business.

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  • The Effective Executive

    by Peter F. Drucker, HarperBusiness; Revised edition 2006

    Published in the mid-60’s, Drucker’s ideas stand up to the test of time. While many of the books precepts have been appropriated in more recent books on leadership, we remain fans of his original thinking—especially on managing time and the art of prioritization.

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  • Value Proposition Design

    by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, Wiley 2014

    Osterwalder and Pigneur take a closer look at the core of their Business Model Canvas – and uncover practical tools for creating products and services customers want.

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  • The Generals

    by Thomas Ricks, Penguin Books 2013

    A fascinating review of U.S. military history through the lens of leadership that has many lessons to offer executives, especially in the areas of accountability and decision-making.

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  • The Disruption Machine

    by Jill Lepore, The New Yorker 20140623

    Lepore revisits Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma” nearly 20 years after its publication and argues that many of its central assertions don’t stand up to scrutiny.

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  • The New Supercompetitors

    by Thomas Hubbard, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi, Strategy & Business 20140808

    The authors, who hail from the Kellogg School of Management, argue that a new class of market leaders is emerging across a variety of industries – and the tie that binds them all is “a single powerful value proposition backed up by a few mutually reinforcing capabilities.”

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  • Learning to Love Criticism

    by Tara Mohr, NYT 20140927

    Mohr, an executive coach, responds to a recent study (that shows managers give female employees more negative feedback than male employees) by providing tactics for responding to criticism “without getting hooked by it.”

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Publications

Delivering Results: It Starts With You

Bob Marcus and Bob Weiler highlight four principles that can help you prepare to lead your team or organization through change in today’s competitive and complex marketplace.

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The Upside of a Downturn

In response to the economic downturn of 2009, Bob Marcus and Bob Weiler have outlined five key strategies to help organizations of any size not only weather an economic downturn, but put in place a foundation that positions them to emerge stronger than before.

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Aligning Organizations: The Foundation of Performance

This book focuses on the difficulties and challenges organizations face as they work to stay aligned during times of change. Bob Marcus and Bob Weiler lay out the steps that leaders can take to achieve—and sustain—alignment.

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Coaching for Results

This whitepaper outlines Brimstone's approach to executive coaching. It provides a framework for understanding when and how coaching can improve a leader’s performance, as well as coaching’s impact on improving the results an organization can deliver.

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